Attorney, court argue over who pays for eval

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Courts > Geisik was charged with criminal contact with minor

By Tris DeRoma

Determining responsibility over who should pay for a psychological evaluation seems to be the main hold up to a Los Alamos man being sentenced for his crimes.
In May 2014, Stephen Geisik of Los Alamos was found guilty of on two counts of criminal contact with a child under the age of 18 and count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
However, after the trial, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer requested a psychological evaluation of the defendant. In November, the court ruled that the evaluation, which was arranged by Geisik’s defense attorney, Sydney West and paid for through the public defender’s office, was not comprehensive enough.
Another evaluation was ordered in December and that time, Judge Sommer ordered that the District Attorney’s Office pay for it.
Assistant District Attorney Kent Wahlquist filed a motion in January disputing the order, citing a 1987 New Mexico Supreme Court order that states the agency that asks for an expert witness to testify shall be responsible for the fees.
In this case, that agency is the First Judicial District Court. Wahlquist further clarified his point in his January motion.
“Although the expert in the present matter is not likely to testify in a court proceeding, (the psychological evaluation expert’s) report will be functioning in a much the same way as direct testimony,” read a statement in the motion. “And because the court ordered the evaluation, payment responsibility under the New Mexico Supreme Court’s (1987 order) should fall to the (district) court.”
The motion also said that same 1987 order stressed that the court should strive to use public sector experts over private sector experts whenever possible in cases such as this.
“It is clear from the rule that the Court has the ability to order the participation of an expert witness that it chooses,” read a statement from Wahlquist’s January motion.
“However, the New Mexico Supreme Court provided further guidance about payment in (the 1987 court order). “In this order the Court reminds all parties of cost control, and states that ‘state officials, judges, district attorneys and public defenders are to maximize the use of taxpayer dollars by obtaining witnesses in the most economical manner possible while not detrimentally affecting the proceedings of justice.’”
Wahlquist also included a recommendation in his motion that instead of paying for a private sector expert to do the evaluation, the court has New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute, an agency within the New Mexico Department of Health, perform a 60-day diagnostic evaluation on Geisik.
The court has yet to respond to Wahlquist’s motion.
For his crimes, Geisik is facing a maximum penalty of nine years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine for each of the criminal contact charges.
The delinquency charge carries a maximum penalty of up to 18 months in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.